Congressman Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, is part of a bipartisan group of members of Congress to introduce a bill to strengthen employee protections against sexual harassment, require members of Congress to personally pay for settlements against them, and ensure accountability by creating transparency regarding member conduct.
The legislation is known as Reforming the Congressional Accountability Act for a Better Congressional Workplace, or CAA Reform Act.
Members issued the following statement:
“From the beginning of this review, we sought to work collectively and in a bipartisan manner to identify the necessary reforms that ensure the initiation, investigation, and adjudication processes, protect the rights of employees, as well as create a safer work environment within the Legislative Branch. The Committee held two hearings with experts on these topics, listening sessions with Members, a roundtable with stakeholders, as well as meeting with victims’ advocates.
“The CAA Reform Act brings more transparency, accountability, and stronger protections for employees. It institutes a respectful, more streamlined process for individuals to report claims and reach a resolution. Ultimately, these reforms will strengthen protections for individuals and needed accountability in the workplace. In addition to the reforms made to the CAA, the Committee recommends a number of House administrative reforms that will take immediate effect upon passage of the CAA Reform Act. The reforms will support the CAA Reform Act, including prohibiting Members Representational Allowance (MRA) funds from going to any future sexual harassment settlements. We are appreciative for the bipartisan support in this process. We believe the proposed comprehensive reforms will pave the way for a safer and more productive congressional workplace.”
H.R.4822, the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act, among other things:
Strengthens the Dispute Resolution Process and Protections of Employee Rights under the Congressional Accountability Act
Holds members personally responsible
Increases transparency of member conduct, awards, and settlements through the Office of Compliance
Provides House employees with immediate access to a dedicated advocate who will provide legal consultation, representation, and assistance in proceedings before the OOC and Committee on Ethics;
Provides opportunities for employees to work remotely or request paid leave without fear of retribution;
Ensures confidentiality of processes;
Directs the OOC to conduct climate survey of employees every two years that would include surveying attitudes on sexual harassment in the workplace; and
Ensures every House Office has an anti-discrimination/anti-harassment policy.
Streamlines and strengthens the dispute resolution and reporting processes:
Eliminates the mandatory counseling and mediation provisions allowing an employee to proceed to an investigation or to file in federal court;
Directs the OOC General Counsel to make one of three findings: 1) reasonable cause for claim; 2) no reasonable cause for claim; and 3) no findings of reasonable cause can be made before any hearing on the merits can be held; and
Maintains opportunities for the employee to engage in mediation.